Alsheimer: The Final Stages of Deer Antler Growth

By Charles J. Alsheimer

This is the fourth and final segment showing the antler growth of a specific 150-class buck. I took this photo on July 31 and it illustrates the growth that has taken place since July 4. For all practical purposes his antler growth is now complete, and is a prime example of the rapid growth a buck can experience in such a short amount of time – with age and quality nutrition.

Alsheimer Deer and Deer Hunting

Most bucks’ antlers are finished growing by around Aug. 10 in the North. This beautiful 150-class buck is a great example of a whitetail’s potential. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

Most Northern bucks will have completed their antler growth by Aug. 10, and the blood flow to antlers diminishes. For the next 20-25 days, the antlers will harden. During this time, the overall size of the antlers actually appears to decrease because the velvet covering them shrinks as the blood flow slows. Sometime in late August through mid-September, most bucks will peel the velvet from their antlers.

When the velvet starts to peel, bucks will expend a great deal of energy to rid themselves of it. The process can take from just an hour or so to over a full day. Interestingly, many bucks will eat the peeled velvet, perhaps to prevent predators from locating them. As testosterone levels rise in late August, bucks may start to spar using their antlers. The antlers have hardened to the point that they won’t break, even if they are still covered with velvet.

Soon this buck, and his counterparts, will bulk up as their bodies prepare for the rigors of the rut and winter. Their lazy days of summer are almost over.

– Charlie



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